I Was the ‘Time’ Magazine Breastfeeding Mom & (Barely) Lived to Tell the Tale

time coverCue the Battle Hymn of the Mommy Wars. That was my first thought when I saw the cover of this week's Time magazine, which features a 26-year-old mom breastfeeding her almost 4-year-old son.

Rather defiantly, I might add.

Though the little boy looks like he's kind of in a hurry to get back to his Thomas the Tank Engine set, so, if it's all the same to you Mommy, can I just have a juice box instead?

Just in case the headline "ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?" isn't enough of a tip-off:

The article inside is all about attachment parenting and how it "drives mothers to extremes" and how if you do it you're a complete freak and if you don't you're a complete failure and how the guy who started the whole thing, Dr. Bill Sears, has somehow become this combination messiah/dictator type figure (depending on your particular side of the fence).

I don't know the mom on the magazine cover. I don't know her kids. I don't know how attachment parenting is going to work out for them in the short or long term ... or how it does or doesn't work out for anybody else.

I can, however, tell you what attachment parenting was like for me.

As a 24-year-old new mom who'd been raised somewhat unconventionally, I fell for the whole attachment parenting philosophy hook, line, and sinker. Co-sleeping? Sure. Wear the baby everywhere in a sling? O-tay. Breastfeed on demand for as long as necessary? Sounds like a plan.

At the time, the concept felt very natural and organic and authentic. And it is.

But what I didn't realize back then was that the attachment parenting way also conveniently justified what I would come to recognize as my weakest parenting points: I'm terrible with setting boundaries (Of course, sleep in my bed!). I instantly blame myself when my kids are unhappy, which causes me to instantly give in (Don't cry, Mommy will take you out of the stroller and put you in the sling!).

All the Dr. Sears books and attachment parenting painted my flaws as virtues. So my kids were attached to me, all right (literally, more often than not), as babies and toddlers. Which was okay, until they couldn't be attached to me anymore.

Attachment parenting went sour for me when things like preschool and drop-off birthday parties entered the equation. Separation anxiety? You could say my kids had some issues in that area. At that point, I started to wonder -- had I done them a disservice?

My kids are now 10 and 6. What's changed? Well, of course they're not attached to me anymore. But sometimes they still act like they have an all-access pass to Mom, and the problem with that is I'm still so burned out from those years of attachment parenting that I don't have the patience to deal. I need everybody to stay in their own beds, all night! Yes, I love you, but GO AWAY! And if I seem crabby, it's probably because the pinched nerve in my upper back that I got from carrying kids around in a sling for years is acting up.

What's your take on attachment parenting? Does it work for you?


Image via Time

in the news, toddler development


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I've never read an AP book, but from articles here and there it seems to be what I've done w my 5 yr old and 2 yr old (who's still nursing).

It's worked well for my family- and that's why I've gone w my gut, consulted friends when I've needed fresh ideas.

Each family needs to do what works for them- when everyone really sees that, these "mommy wars" will abate somewhat.

Books for AP or cry it out should be read as parental suggestions, not a handbook

or the gospel.

LKRachel LKRachel

We are not 100% ap parents, closer to half and half Bc I think there is no magic bullet for every family. You have to do what works for your family and your children (it could even vary from child to child!)

and the most important thing- just because something is right for your family does NOT mean that someone who does even the exact opposite is wrong! There are a million different paths to 'right' out there and until we calm down and acknowledge that for each other, the 'mommy wars' bs will continue.

tonip... toniperoni

must be an american thing but Dr Sears is not the authority on attachment parenting. That honour belongs to Jean Leidloff, author of the continuum concept and also good old Dr Spock in somepart.

Attachment parenting DOES NOT advocate limitless raising of children with no regard for their independance, and when done properly (ie: by using loving discipline, limits and your own instincts) is know to produce far more confident children who are independant well before their peers.

It's not about breastfeeding forever or having your kids in bed until they are 18 - it's about being emotionallyavailable to your children so they learn to trust you.The focus these days is caring for a childs physical and spiritual needs but this includes the emotional needs.

I have 2 kids who I was told by all and sundry would never want to be put down, sleep on their own etc. By their 2nd birthday they slept alone, were fully 100% weaned (by 15 months actually) and are among the most confident kids I know - they didnt cry when they hurt themselves or get snatched from and they didn't demand to be carried at all. This is just more scaremongering about a valid lifestyle choice.

Bonnie Bruns Williams

I agree with both commenters, we are the same way.  I never heard of AP and I have kids that I raised with some of the ideas behind AP.  We used slings, co-slept and I nursed my kids until they were around 18 months when they self-weaned.  The "mommy wars" are ridiculous -- parents have the right to raise their children whatever way works best for them.  There is no cookie-cutter perfect way to parent.  The sooner moms lay off each other the better!

dirti... dirtiekittie

i'm not an AP advocate for myself, but power to those who are able to use it for their families. personally (and this is not an attack, just my opinion) once your child is old enough to ask for milk or juice with words, they're too old for breastfeeding... but again, just my personal thought on it... whatever works for others! :)

Stacey. Stacey.

I think its sad she doesnt know any other way to show her son how she can love and nurture him. There are PLENTY of ways to show your child you are there for them always, no matter what, and to give them that confidence and support. Breastfeeding is for NUTRITION, everything else is just a plus. My dad made me feel more loved than anyone during my childhood, and I didnt even have to suck his nipple. How is she going to be able to show her son love when he's 30, pull out a boob? At this point, her sons nutrition is coming from food, and he still breastfeeds for the "experience" which is sick.

Terri Jordan

i am an attached parent-ish type mom but u gotta cut the apron strings.

Terri Jordan

i am an attached parent-ish type mom but u gotta cut the apron strings.

nonmember avatar Dawn

We did attachment parenting with both of our children. I love the Sears Family philosophies. No where did I read that there wasn't a need for boundaries with children in any of their books. Neither one of my children are stunted socially and they do not have a problem with play dates, sleep overs, school or daycare. And no, they did not "grow out" of it as my son is only 2 years old. Both weened by the time they were 2 and like to sleep alone now unless they are sick. We have boundaries and consequence for inappropriate behavior. Parenting isn't a science. It is an ongoing, evolving lifestyle!

coupo... coupon_ash_back

AP works for us. I wouldn't do it any other way.

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